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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Saint Hilarion the Great as an Exorcist


By St. Dimitri of Rostov
 
1. The servant and driver of a certain nobleman of Gaza was set upon by a demon as he was driving his carriage. He became stiff and could not move at all but remained able to speak. This servant was brought to the godly Hilarion in the desert, and as soon as the saint laid eyes on him, he said, "You cannot be cured of your infirmity unless you first believe in Christ the Lord, Who alone can heal you of your ailment."

The sick man cried out piteously, "I believe in Him; only let Him heal me!"

The saint prayed and healed the man by the power of Christ, and then instructed him in the faith. He told the servant to be baptized and sent him home freed from bondage to the devil and whole in body and soul.

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Dragon of Mega Spelaion


Mega Spelaion, or Great Cave, is a large cave near Kalavryta, in the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. Today a monastery is there known as the Monastery of Mega Spelaion, because according to tradition, it was in this cave that the Apostle Luke lived while evangelizing the area, and where he also wrote his Gospel and made one of his first icons of the Mother of God. Many centuries later two brothers who were monks, Saints Symeon and Theodore, found this miraculous icon with the help of a local shepherdess Saint Euphrosyne in the cave and a monastery was established. However, after the two brothers found the icon, deep within the cave, unknown to them, it is said there lived a dragon.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Saint Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer, Archbishop of Trebizond

St. Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer (Feast Day - October 11)

On October 11, 2020 the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Oraiokastro, a municipality in Thessaloniki, revived the celebration of the memory of a long-forgotten saint who is known as Saint Athanasios the Demon-Destroyer, the Wonderworker, the Archbishop of Trebizond. (You can read the account of how this Saint was rediscovered here.)

To prepare for this first celebration, a Hierarch familiar with Pontian history, Metropolitan Paul of Drama, wrote the results of his research and with this had composed a Service of Praise in honor of the Saint. In the Prologue he tells us about the source of his information on Saint Athanasios, who was the Archbishop of Trebizond in the 9th century (specifically 867-886). He writes:

Friday, October 8, 2021

How Lord Byron's Trip to Greece Brought the Modern Vampire to the West


When Lord Byron was 21 years old, he decided to undertake the customary upper class Grand Tour. The Grand Tour was the 17th- and 18th-century custom of a traditional trip through Europe undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank (typically accompanied by a chaperone, such as a family member) when they had come of age (about 21 years old). Byron, who studied ancient Greek and the history of Greece, longed to see Greece and Constantinople, and thus made these the special focus of his Grand Tour.

It was in Greece during Lord Byron's Grand Tour, between 1809 and 1810, that he was told several local myths and legends. While in Athens, he became aware of the Turkish custom of throwing a woman found guilty of adultery into the sea wrapped in a sack. This inspired him to write The Giaour, the first of his three oriental tales.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Saint Herakleides and the Demoniac Who Issued Forth a Snake and Two Crabs


A well-attested story from 1769 states the following. 
 
A certain Hadji named Savvas, an inhabitant of the Phaneromeni district of Nicosia in Cyprus, had a son named John, who was a victim of demonic possession. On the feast of Saint Herakleides the parents brought their child to the shrine of the Saint in hopes of eliminating his suffering. While the Divine Liturgy was being celebrated, a strange occurrence took place. The boy suddenly fell to the ground, convulsing and vomiting, then witnesses beheld his tormentor issue forth in the shape of a snake, a span length, and two crabs. The snake and the crabs were afterwards hung up publicly in the church to confirm the faith of believers and silence the unbelievers. 
 
The Holy Hieromartyr Herakleides, Bishop of Tamassos, is commemorated on September 17th. 
 
 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saint Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk and the Malicious Demoniac with a Distorted Face and Inhuman Voice


The following incident took place according to the testimony of Andrei Fedorovich Kovalevsky (1840-1901), who was a pious Kharkov landowner who pursued asceticism in the field of spiritual literature, and was acquainted with Saint Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk (+ 1882), about whom he wrote the following:
 
Once a man of enormous height was brought to [St. Ioanniki], a line Cossack from beyond the Kuban, with a brutally distorted face; he was hardly able to be dragged there by two stalwart Cossacks, his relatives. The demoniac roared in an inhuman voice, and the roar of a bear, and the howl of a wolf, and the grunt of a pig were alternately heard in the sounds of his voice, while his eyes sparkled with inexpressible malice. 
 

Friday, September 3, 2021

When Saint Nektarios Encountered a Demon Possessed Young Man Upon His Arrival in Aegina


Saint Nektarios went to Aegina at the end of the summer of 1904. His purpose was to establish the monastery which now bears his name.

As the boat approached that was bringing him to the island, a young demon possessed man, Spyros, fell before the doorstep of the pharmacy of Aegina and began to shout:

"He's coming, the bishop is coming! Run to welcome him! The saint is coming to save the island!"

They tried to calm him down, but they could not. Spyros continued to shout. A crowd of strangers gathered and kept growing. They looked sadly at the disheveled lad and marveled at what he said.

Some ran to Papa-Michalis, the pastor.

"Papa, Spyros is foretelling about a bishop. A bishop is coming, he shouts, who will save the island."

Papa-Michalis hurried to see what was happening. He entered the circle of those that gathered and approached Spyros. He was still shouting:

"The bishop is coming from Rizarios! God took pity on this place! The holy one of Pentapolis is coming!"

The priest watched the confused young man for a long time, who was foaming at the mouth when he tried to shout. Then he left troubled in his thoughts and headed to the port dock. At that time the ship came from Piraeus. Among the passengers Papa-Michalis distinguished the bishop.

He bent reverently and kissed his hand.

"Your Eminence, welcome to Aegina. First time coming here?"

"First," he replied with a smile.

"Here, let's go home ... Only ..."

"Do you want anything?"

"Yes, a little further on, an event shocked us."

"What happened?"

"There is a poor young man, crawling in the market, closing his eyes and prophesying the future. He is now disheveled and shouting that you will come and save the place. He even calls you a man of God, a saint!"

"Where exactly is this young man?"

"This way, Your Eminence."

They went and arrived at the doorstep of the pharmacy. Spyros was still shouting:

"The bishop is coming! He is coming to save this place! He will build a church! He will build the biggest Monastery!"

The Saint stood short of where the young man was. He raised his face to heaven and prayed. Then he raised his staff, the only sign of his high priesthood, and, shutting the mouth of the lad, said:

- "Spirit of the python, the wicked and impure, I urge you in the name of Christ the Crucified, to come out of this young man."

Immediately then Spyros groaned and stood up! He opened his eyes. Then he bent down and full of gratitude kissed the hand of the Saint, who healed him. 


Monday, August 30, 2021

"There Is No Telepathy" (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi)


When Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi was asked about the subject of telepathy, which is the belief in the communication of thoughts or ideas by means other than the known senses, he replied:

There is no telepathy. It is as we said. Either there is the Grace of God or the delusion of the demons. When man begins to live a Christian life, after coming out of the margins of the unnatural, sinful life, he begins to live normally, naturally. From the natural he rises to the supernatural towards sanctification. Then the intuition, which is a gift he had before the fall, begins to awaken in him. After intuition, clairvoyance follows. Clairvoyance is followed by foresight. Then with the increasing of grace there is prophecy. In these situations when there is a pious person with intuition, clairvoyance, foresight and prophecy he will see these things, if he sees them. This is the only way. Otherwise they are a charlatan. What does telepathy mean? The "fallen" man is fallen. The sinful man is deprived of everything. He has nothing left. What you say about the transfer of thoughts from person to person is done only with the energy of Satan. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Trailer for "Vampir", a New Film Inspired By 18th Century Serbian Vampire Tales


Vampir (2021) is a soon to be released art house horror film directed by Branko Tomovic.

According to the description: "The story takes place in rural central Serbia, where the myth about vampires originates from. After witnessing a crime in London and looking for a place to hide for a while, Arnaut is offered a job by charming yet ruthless local Vesna to look after a cemetery in a small remote village in Serbia. He soon starts to have nightmarish visions and is frequently visited by the mysterious older woman Baba Draga who guides Arnaut into the darkness. Only the village priest seems to be trying to keep him safe from the sinister intentions of the villagers."

Thursday, April 22, 2021

An Exorcism With a Full Stomach? An Incident from the Life of Elder Gervasios Paraskevopoulos

 

Father Ephraim of the Skete of the Holy Apostle Andrew in Serai near Karyes of Mount Athos recalled the following story from the life Elder Gervasios Paraskevopoulos (+ 1964):

On one particular Easter Sunday evening, Father Gervasios Paraskevopoulos retired to his room to break his long and strict fast of Great Lent and Holy Week by eating some avgolemono soup, cheese and a paschal egg. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and it was a certain mother who came to him seeking help for her daughter who was demon possessed. Having eaten half of his soup, he took his epitrachelion and followed the mother to her house.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Horror Movies and the Cross - Censored Cemetery Crucifix Scene from "Bride of Frankenstein"

Screen shot of the censored scene.

Bride of Frankenstein is the 1935 sequel to Universal Pictures' 1931 film Frankenstein, both directed by James Whale and star Boris Karloff as the Monster.

Whereas little was censored in the first Frankenstein, by the mid-1930s the rules about violence and other potentially offensive content in public entertainment were strict.

Joseph Breen, director of the Production Code Administration, and an Irish Catholic, made many recommendations regarding what was appropriate and what wasn’t for Bride. At this time, if a script didn’t receive the PCA’s seal of approval, it simply wasn’t getting produced.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Horror Movies and the Cross - Five Favorite Scenes Displaying the Power of the Cross


Many horror movies especially of recent times downplay the power of the Cross to give more of a sense of the unstoppable power of a particular evil entity, but there are still many horror films that offer displays of its power in the face of an encounter with evil. Usually these scenes are dealing with vampires and demons. Below are five of my favorite scenes among many that I was able to locate online (*be warned that some of these scenes may be viewed as scary by certain viewers*):
 
1. Dracula (1931)
 
 
 
2. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) 
 
 
 
3. The Devil Rides Out (1967) 
 
 
 
4. Fright Night (1985) 
 
 
 
5. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) 
 
 
 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Horror Movies and the Cross - The Cross in the Very First Horror Movie from 1896

 
Horror movies go back to the very origins of film, specifically to 1896, when French special-effects genius Georges Méliès made the three plus minute short, Le Manoir du Diable (The Manor of the Devil, otherwise known in English as The Haunted Castle).

Méliès, known for his silent sci-fi fantasy A Trip to the Moon — and for the tribute paid to him in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo — used his innovative methods to tell a story of “a large bat that flies into a room and transforms into Mephistopheles. He then stands over a cauldron and conjures up a girl along with some phantoms and skeletons and witches. Two men then enter the room to examine the matter, and are soon frightened and tempted by the conjurings of Mephistopheles, until finally one of them grabs a large crucifix from the wall and the devil disappears.” Though a quick and concise story, and as scary as a walk through a very short haunted house with a bunch of frights flying at you from all directions, still it is an excellent example of a technique Méliès supposedly discovered that very year. According to Earlycinema.com,
 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Elder Ephraim of Arizona and the Demon Possessed Canadian Woman

 

Elder Ephraim of Arizon gave the following testimony of an exorcism he performed for a Canadian woman:

"I had gone to Canada and there I spoke to the Greek community about the devil, about how he deceives us and leads us to sin. When I finished the speech and the people left, there was a big uproar. Some ladies then came and informed me that some old lady had been demonized. The demon-possessed woman was shouting and screaming, saying words about me:

'This man has revealed me, he brought me out! What are you looking for here in Canada? He came to take what was mine, which I had bound tightly. I will hurt him and take revenge on him!'

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Demonology of Saint Diadochos of Photike

 
Saint Diadochos distinguishes evil spirits into two categories: into the most subtle psychic demons and into the most material carnal demons. The subtler spirits fight the soul by arousing the psychic passions and the material fight the flesh by arousing the body with carnal desires. Both categories are equivalent, yet they operate "against each other", due to the difference between the soul and the body, which is reflected in both categories of demonic spirits, as long as they affect the soul and the body. When grace does not dwell in man, they nest in the depths of his heart, like real snakes, preventing the soul from desiring good. But when Grace, which was obtained through Baptism, is in man, then they run around the parts of the heart, that is, not in the heart or mind but mainly in the flesh, like dark clouds, taking various formations, in order to distract the mind from its contact with Divine Grace.1

Friday, February 26, 2021

Chapel of Saint Theokletos the Sorcerer in Messolonghi

 
Messolonghi is the capital of Aitolia-Acarnania in western Greece, and is the location of the Metropolis of Aitolia and Acarnania. In the courtyard of the Metropolis is the Chapel of Saint Theokletos the Sorcerer, the only known shrine to this Saint in the world. It was built by the late Metropolitan Theokletos of Aitolia and Acarnania (1922-2007) to honor his patron saint, and it celebrates every year on February 26th.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Devil's Lament (St. Ephraim the Syrian)

 
 
Tetrasyllable Discourse
 
In Which the Devil Laments his Defeat at the Hands of the Ascetics

By St. Ephraim the Syrian

When the wicked devil had been overpowered and defeated, he sat down in lamentation, saying in the midst of his weeping:

“Woe is me, the wretch! What is this that I have suffered? How is it that I have come away in defeat?

I have brought this shame upon myself by waging war with them so often. I should have known right away, when I was vanquished on my first and second assaults, that Christ was with them. For I used to love waging war on the saints, and my hatred for them grew, until I was finally disgraced. For I went away defeated, in great shame. My head was wounded by their heavy blows. I set snares for them, to trap them, but they snatched them up and crushed my head. The sharp arrows that I hurled at them they caught, and they used them to slay me. I assailed them with a variety of passions, but they put me to flight by the power of the Cross.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Saint Dionysios of Olympus and the Monk Who Summoned a Demon

 
There was a monk at Beroea who was only slightly educated. One day a book on divination came into his hands, and out of curiosity he read a little bit of it, thereby invoking the demons. As he slept that night, he saw in a dream a giant creature, blacker than any Ethiopian, who said to him:

"Because you have called upon me, I have come. If you will make obeisance to me, I will do what you ask!"

Now the monk recognized that this was the devil, and said to him:

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Saint Kuksha of Odessa and the Power of Holy Water


 
Saint Kuksha of Odessa (+ 1964) advised to bless all new things and products with Holy Water, and he sprinkled Holy Water in his monastic cell every evening. He learned what power Holy Water had from his spiritual father.

When Saint Kuksha was a ryassaphore monk on the Holy Mountain, he bore the name Constantine and had as an elder the Elder Melchizedek. One day as they were standing in prayer, the elder and his spiritual son heard what sounded like a wedding party coming toward the cell — horses trampling, accordions playing, and there was singing and laughter and whistling.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Demonizing Others Often Begins With Our Own Unquestioned Thoughts of Suspicion (St. Paisios the Athonite)

 
Saint Paisios once said:
 
We must question our thoughts of suspicion. I will tell you of an incident so you can see what these thoughts do. One day a monk came to the hut and said to me:

"Elder Haralambos is a magician; he did magic."

"What are you saying, you lost fool? You should be ashamed of yourself," I told him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Exorcism That Led to the Building of a Chapel in Honor of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

 

On 2 January 2021, Elder Gabriel, abbot of the Monastery of Venerable David in Evia, together with the fathers of the Monastery, celebrated the feast of Saint Seraphim of Sarov at the Chapel of Saint Seraphim of Sarov built on a mountain near the Monastery by the former abbot, the Holy Elder Kyrillos together with the fathers of his time. During the sermon after the Divine Liturgy, Elder Gabriel explained the history of this chapel as follows:

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